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Haven’t heard this angle before.

Something that people rarely think of as a con game is sexual harassment, but after listening to the lived experiences of women who have been sexually harassed and/or assaulted, I feel the analogy is apt. Like a con artist, the sexual harasser usually knows their victim well and uses their authority or “friendship” to gain trust. With that trust, the harasser then works to gain access to something far more valuable than money. They gain access to the victim’s body, their sexuality, their most private selves. In addition to anger and frustration, the common theme in the stories I’ve heard is shame and guilt. These feelings are why sexual offenses are so infrequently reported.

However, what’s worse than the betrayal of trust is that even when sexual harassment/assault and rape are reported, victims are often met with disbelief, invalidation, shaming and inaction. In my case, if I had overcome my shame to report my con artist, I likely would have had the charge reimbursed and the company investigated. But I seriously doubt that the person on the other end of the phone at the consumer protection agency would have asked, “Are you sure you didn’t lead the con artist on?” or “Oh, I know him. He’d never con anyone!” or “You know what, we need to keep this quiet. I think the best approach is for me to have a private conversation with the con artist to clear things up.”

There’s a lot more, including something I have heard of before: scientific research on sexual harassment.

Little is known about the climate of the scientific fieldwork setting as it relates to gendered experiences, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. We conducted an internet-based survey of field scientists (N = 666) to characterize these experiences. Codes of conduct and sexual harassment policies were not regularly encountered by respondents, while harassment and assault were commonly experienced by respondents during trainee career stages. Women trainees were the primary targets; their perpetrators were predominantly senior to them professionally within the research team. Male trainees were more often targeted by their peers at the research site. Few respondents were aware of mechanisms to report incidents; most who did report were unsatisfied with the outcome.


While verbal harassment may appear to be less threatening and more socially acceptable than harassment involving physical contact, sexually offensive humour and sexualized imagery are argued to be damaging in that they serve to mark certain workplaces as masculinized spaces which reinforce and perpetuate discrimination and harassment in socially acceptable ways.


This article attempts to integrate the literature on sexual harassment with emerging research on generalized interpersonal mistreatment in the workplace. Overall, results underscore the need to look at sexual harassment as an experience embedded in a larger context of disrespect. These findings should cast a new perspective on how such seemingly different forms of antisocial behavior relate and combine to interfere with working women’s occupational, psychological, and physical health.

Enough free samples, go read.

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